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the poverty of middle-class morality

July 29, 2012

I think Devin does a decent job in her article “Walmart Greeter Buys 6-Pack of Beer & Is Condemned” of illustrating a common double standard in regard to how the middle class judges both the rich and poor, a pseudo-moral judgmentalism that I think ultimately stems from an ideology dominated by wealthy, ruling-class elites since, as Marx notes in The German Ideology, “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.” The self-made myth and the meritocracy myth are just two examples of ideas that originate with the ruling class and, due to their ideological dominance, influence the rest of society.

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